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Unified basketball holds largest event of the sports season

Unified Sports, a program which encourages students with special needs to participate and compete in school Athletics, competes against Lincoln’s basketball team at home
Ed Tanaka
Ballard team posing after beating Lincoln in the team’s largest event of the 2023-2024 sports season.

On December 14, the Unified basketball team competed against their rivals, the
Lincoln Lynxes. In a game which featured an electric environment, alongside a competitive
game between both schools, Ballard was able to get the win. Junior Yaniv Nissanov was a key player in the
Beavers’ victory against Lincoln. After playing in the rivalry game, Nissanov had much to be excited about,
contributing to his team’s memorable victory against the Lynxes. His performance not only contributed to the team’s victory by swiping 11 steals, but his enthusiasm and passion also created a game that many will remember. “I liked how we won the game,” Nissanov said. “I also liked how we put a lot of points on the board.” Nissanov had high praise for his teammates, and believes teamwork is the key to success. He was happy that he had the opportunity to share a win with not just his friends, but also with the fans, as early in the game, Nissanov came up with one of his
many steals, and found a teammate for an easy layup, getting the fans pumped up. “I’d say my favorite player is Ella because she is really fast,” Nissanov said. Being fast and moving around on the court is very important to Nissanov. He was constantly moving up and down the court during the game in order to valiantly fight and put in his all for the team. “When you get to move around a lot in basketball you burn a lot of calories,” Nissanov said. “That is
what I really like about basketball.” Though players are the main stars during Unified Sports games, a lot of time and effort were put in by volunteers to manage and facilitate these events. A critical member in organizing the event was football coach Malik Prince. Prince, a benevolent figure in the community, decided that this year was the perfect time for him to get involved and give back to his community by supporting the Unified program. “This was my first year helping out in Unified,” Prince said. “From talking to the players, getting to know them before the game, learning their names, how to say their names and something cool about them. It’s good just to help out as [much as] I can.”
Student participation and attendance is vital and always welcomed by the players. For Prince, he was exhilarated by the amount of support shown this year. “It’s great to show up for these students, because they do the same thing for us,” Prince said. “Coming [to the games] is the best way to show your support.” Additionally, Prince encourages all students to participate in the various Unified Sports games. “Students should be willing to sign up,” Prince said.
“It’s not as big a commitment as you think.” As Unified Sports continue to grow, the commitment from players, volunteers and supportive students, are what will keep it running. By simply showing up to unified sports games, students are able to make a huge difference in the lives of unified athletes.

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